Chelsea 1-1 PSG: Blues through on penalties after better second half

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CHARLOTTE, NC — Chelsea struggled mightily in the first 45 minutes, but slowly improved throughout the second half, as they drew 1-1 with Ligue 1 side Paris Saint-Germain.

Of course, we needed a winner, so penalty kicks saw Chelsea take the victory, with Thibaut Courtois triumphantly hit the winner with power.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic put PSG ahead in the first half with a goal off a rebound, but a more free-flowing second half brought Chelsea back into the match allowing Cesc Fabregas to find Victor Moses past the hour mark for the equalizer.

Early on, the clogged PSG midfield made things hard for Chelsea to progress through the middle, and the Frenchmen held much of the possession throughout the first 20 minutes. Chelsea’s rigid shape held firm early on, but finally a giveaway allowed the French champions in. Jean-Kevin Augustin snatched the ball off John Obi Mikel at the top of the box, and his low shot rebounded off the post right to the feet of a wide-open Zlatan Ibrahimovic who slammed the ball home and celebrated accordingly.

The goal changed the game and galvanized PSG in front of a pro-Chelsea crowd. Diego Costa hit the post on a ball from Hazard, but past the half-hour mark it was all PSG as they poured forward. Lucas Moura again proved dangerous with a scintillating run through the middle and his shot forced a stunning save from Asmir Begovic, starting a five-minutes stretch that produced a handful of solid chances for the French giants.

Both Marco Verratti and Augustin went to ground in the box but were waved on by the referee. Seconds later Verratti nearly chipped Begovic after being played clear through on goal, but it fell just wide. On 40 minutes, Augustin put the moves on Branislav Ivanovic, but his shot went at Begovic from point-blank range.

Chelsea somehow made it to halftime without conceding another, and the second half started as the first ended, with PSG dominating possession of the ball. Chelsea were gifted a golden opportunity to tie things up as a mistake at the back fell right at the feet of Cesc Fabregas all alone, but the former Arsenal man took ages to fire off a shot, and by the time he did, substitute Adrien Rabiot had made his way in for the block.

Fabregas amended for his mistake, though, as another Chelsea attack ended with an equalizer. The Spaniard flicked the ball brilliantly across the box to Victor Moses waiting at the far post, and his side-foot finish easily beat Salvatore Sirigu who had just come on.

Chelsea then made wholesale changes, getting Radamel Falcao into the action for the first time in a Chelsea uniform. He had an opportunity on the 76th minute, but his diving effort was blocked. Things slowed down in the final 10 minutes, and the two teams finished level as the changes forced each side to hit the reset button.

In the penalty shootout, each team missed just once in the first five, with Juan Cuadrado and Jean-Christophe Bahebeck each seeing their shots saved. In the seventh round, Thiago Silva’s penalty was stopped by Courtois, and the Chelsea goalkeeper smacked a howitzer past Sirigu for the win.

LINEUPS:

Chelsea: Begovic (Courtois 46′); Ivanovic, Cahill (Zouma 46′), Terry, Azpilicueta; Fabregas (Remy 70′), Hazard (Cuadrado 74′), Mikel (Ramires 46′), Moses (Oscar 70′), Matic (Willian 70′); Costa (Falcao 70′).

PSG: Trapp (Sirigu 68′); Maxwell (Digne 79′), Luiz (Silva 46′), Van der Weil (Sabaly 79′), Aurier (Marquinhos 46′); Stambouli (Motta 46′), Matuidi (Nkunku 79′), Verratti (Rabiot 46′), Moura (Bahebeck 79′); Augustin (Cavani 65′), Ibrahimovic (Ongenda 79′).